Are any parents in the middle of trying to help their children learn the times tables? I clearly remember struggling with my times tables as a kid. My teachers would usually just hand me a multiplication chart, shrug and tell me I just needed to concentrate and memorize them. Not surprisingly, this was not a helpful strategy for me. I did eventually learn my multiplication tables, but when I became a teacher I found there are so many other ways to help kids learn to multiply. My theory is if kids are having fun they will forget that they are learning!
I have three fun activities to share today and they are all geared toward kinesethic learners. These kinds of learners love to use their hands, get active or need to experience something to really understand it. So many kids learn this way and sadly many times our schools just do not teach to this learning style. If you have a kinesethic learner try a few of these out and let me know how it goes!
Create the problem with clay.
I love this method! I used clay all the time in my first year teaching, I taught second grade and I only had boys in my classroom. Most of my students were really wiggly and easily distracted, but when I gave them some clay to play with they could focus and complete their work much easier. Some of my kids liked to use clay to create their math problems, being able to see and touch the problem made it so much easier for them to understand and solve.
This method is super easy and fun. Give your student a multiplication problem (for example 4 x 4) and ask them to show you what it looks like. They can demonstrate the problem however they want, I added an example above. In my example I made 4 groups of 4 spheres, if your student doesn’t know the answer he or she can easily count all the spheres to figure it out. It will probably take some time the first few times your student does this, but as multiplication gets easier your student will get faster and faster with this!
When teaching in the classroom I take my kids outside for P.E. and we do our warm ups (jumping jacks, sit ups, stretches) while we skip count. The kids who are completely bored with the multiplication chart suddenly perk up and happily join in. Kids need to move, their brains and bodies are growing so fast! I really feel like many times kids spend way too much time sitting indoors, especially during school hours.
Here’s the fun part- do this with your child! You will both have fun and your child will love that you are participating as well! Start easy, maybe just skip count by 2’s at first. As your child gets more and more comfortable multiplying you can do jumping jacks and quiz him or her on really challenging problems.
This one depends on how comfortable you are with your child in the kitchen, but it is really fun. You can start by asking your child to prepare 3 groups of carrots with 3 carrots in each group. Once your child has done this, ask him or her how many carrots there are. If you want to get fancy, you can make the equation out of food as well. I love this one for a few reasons. First, most kids love helping in the kitchen so they won’t even realize they are practicing multiplication. Second, this is a great excuse to just spend some time with your child! I get wrapped up in trying to get dinner on the table and it is easier to cook without my kids, but kids love to help out in the kitchen. Some of my favorite childhood memories take place in my parent’s kitchen.
Just something to keep in mind, it does take some kids longer than others to really master their multiplication facts. Don’t get frustrated, just keep practicing in a way that works best for your child.